When you hear “fairy tale author” what names come to mind? It’s likely the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen. Some might say Andrew Lang, editor of the Colored Fairy Tale Books. Now, can you think of a female fairy tale author? There are wonderful female authors of fairy tales and folktales. As you explore the world of fairy tales and folklore, take the time to discover great stories by female authors on Fairytalez.
I ate my supper in quiet, listening patiently to the talk of the old people, wishing all the time that they would begin the stories I loved best.
Madame d’Aulnoy, The Woman Behind the “Fairy Tale”
We can’t speak about fairy tales without mentioning author Baroness Marie Catherine d’Aulnoy. Madame d’Aulnoy created spectacular stories she dubbed conte de fées. Conte means tale, while fée means fairy. Born around 1650, Madame d’Aulnoy was a big influence on many of the fairy tale authors we know today. Her work was popular among the French salons, literary circles held in upper-class women’s living rooms. The salons would feature women discussing their viewpoints on society at large, but also gave them a chance to develop literature, including fairy tales. These salons were more than mere social gatherings, they were also a chance for women to receive a bit of an education.
Madame d’Aulnoy’s salons were quite popular. Her vibrant storytelling skills led to her nickname ‘Clio,” the Greek muse of history. Years later, Andrew Lang and Charles Perrault would rewrite several of her stories for their collections. One of her most popular fairy tales is The White Cat. This rich and enchanting tale features familiar fairy tale elements, such as a set of three tasks, animal brides, and a maiden in a tower. Spanning 14,000 words, it’s an Advanced 1-hour read.
Zitkala-Ša, Sioux storyteller
As a child in 1884, Zitkala-Ša was removed from the Yankton Indian Reservation and placed in a missionary school under the Christian name Gertrude Simmons Bonnin. Her experience at the school was miserable, as she endured having her heritage stripped from her in several ways, including the cutting of her traditionally long hair. The experience of forced assimilation at such a young age made her realize the true value of her culture’s tales.
After attending college, she became an outspoken advocate for women’s education. She eventually founded the organization National Council of American Indians with her husband. Her collection Old Indian Legends is a rich treasury of Native American fairy tales and folklore collected when she returned to the reservation in 1901. Several of her folktales feature Iktomi, the trickster spider fairy. Iktomi and the Muskrat is a classic example of Iktomi’s wicked nature and how his plans backfire. It’s an Easy 6-minute read.
Elsie Spicer Eells, Traveler and Researcher
Perhaps one of the most prolific female fairy tale authors, Elsie Spicer Eells worked as a researcher for the Hispanic Society of America in New York and traveled extensively. The result of her voyages and interest in other cultures led to the publication of several wonderful fairy tale collections.
Eells published her first collection of fairy tales in 1917. The book, Fairy Tales from Brazil, centered on “how” and “why” stories, or pourquoi tales, taken from Brazilian folklore. She then published a second volume, Tales of Giants from Brazil, the following year. From there, Eells went on to publish fairy tales and folklore from the Azores, the Amazon region, Spain, and South America. Fairytalez features over 70 stories by Elsie Spicer Eells. One of Fairytalez’s most popular tales is The Carnation Youth, an Easy 9-minute read about a girl who discovers an enchanted carnation.
Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, Croatian Author
Grandaughter of a poet and child of an author, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić began writing stories for children in French, then later published a collection of Croatian fairy tales in 1916. Drawn from Croatian-Slavic mythology, Croatian Tales of Long Ago was an instant bestseller and widely considered her best work. Her work has drawn comparisons to J.R.R. Tolkien and Hans Christian Andersen, but the tales possess a magic all their own. An Intermediate read, Stribor’s Forest features a clever Brownie, a wicked snake, and a faithful mother who all venture into a magic forest.
Other Female Fairy Tale Authors To Discover
The authors listed here are only a glimpse at the female fairy tale authors you’ll find at Fairytalez. For centuries women throughout the world have been writing, collecting, and editing fairy tales. Green Willow and Other Japanese Fairy Tales, Australian Legendary Tales, and Old French Fairy Tales are just a few more collections by female fairy tale authors. We’ve even recorded many of these tales in audiobook for the Fairytalez Audio App.